Dubai: While being an online influencer may be the trend these days, a 78-year-old Indian expatriate in Sharjah prefers to use her knowledge and a collection of 81,900 SMSs to share useful messages with her followers on WhatsApp.
From home remedies to poems and jokes, Hemlata Ramchand Bhatia, from Indian city of Indore, has a message for everyone she meets.
“I write every message I receive on WhatsApp in my diary — the message has to be either useful or funny,” said Bhatia.
Watch: A social media influencer at age 78? Meet Sharjah resident Hemlata Ramchand Bhattacharyya who runs over 7 Whatsapp groups.
Bhatia has more than 60 diaries in her homes in India and Sharjah, in which she has noted down every interesting message or post she received on her phone in either English or Hindi.
“I have been noting down the messages since 2005, much before the WhatsApp was introduced. It is fun to write. I feel there is so much sadness everywhere these days, and very few people are happy. My aim is to spread some happiness through these messages,” she said.
Bhatia is the admin of five different groups on WhatsApp, which include around 70 members each. Bhatia answers questions and shares sayings, easy home remedies, short tales and valuable life lessons with her online followers, and follows a strict policy regarding the types of posts shared.
“I know the members by name, I haven’t met them. They ask to join the group and sometimes send a picture of themselves. But I am very strict regarding all the groups. If anyone posts anything vulgar he is given a warning and deleted off the group for a week,” explained Bhatia.
The grandmother of eight got her first phone as a gift from her son on her 50th birthday, and taught herself to use it. “As my first phone had the capacity to store only 10 messages at a time, I would write down the messages in my diary and then delete them off my phone. After that, I asked my son for a phone with a bigger capacity, and now I have got my sixth phone,” she said smilingly.
Bhatia bought a laptop when she was 65 and learnt how to use it. “My grandson who was visiting me in India at that time, told me my mind was very clear and that I should learn how to use a laptop. Before he left, I noted down instructions on how to switch on the laptop and operate it on the back of an old calendar,” she said. On occasions where she needed help using her laptop, Bhatia would often stop one of the schoolchildren walking past her bungalow to ask for help.
Bhatia, who lived in Bahrain for 29 years, learnt the English language herself. Working as a teacher in an Indian School, she later went on to provide private tuition classes, and picked up as much Arabic, Farsi and English as she could from the diverse community she lived in.
“I never learnt even ABC at school and I didn’t go to college. I had to leave school after 10th grade and I joined a centre where I learnt the skills like embroidery and knitting,” said Bhatia.
Whether it is knitting a scarf or writing poems, Bhatia often engrossed herself into different projects. With her love for writing, she wrote poems supporting different causes and printed them to distribute to people in her community.
She recalled one of her favourite poem, which was about empowering girls in India. Bhatia also read dozens of books to help increase her knowledge, with one titled ‘What you eat can treat you.’
“I purchased more than 4,000 copies of that book over the years, and gave them to my family members, relatives and friends, and as gifts in weddings and other ceremonies. This book has all the secrets,” she said.
Bhatia was also recognised by the Limca Book of Records in India three times, for having the largest collection on hand-written SMS messages.
Known for her zest for life and wisdom, Bhatia’s family, friends, and online community turn to her for answers to their queries for overcoming cold using a home remedy or what to do for hair growth. They also turn to her for matters regarding emotional strength and positivity and she had always an answer that can help make things better for them.